Objective: To analyse the course of multiple sclerosis (MS) after fingolimod withdrawal in a multicentre cohort. Methods: Patients who discontinued fingolimod were included. Relapses, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), and new/gadolinium-enhancing lesions on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) were assessed during the last year on fingolimod, and in the year after discontinuation. Wilcoxon test was used to analyse the difference in EDSS and relapses between the two periods, and to compare lymphocyte counts at discontinuation and 3 months later. Demographic and clinical variables were evaluated using univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses. Results: Patients were 230 (females 66.1%; mean age 38 years; median EDSS 3). Fingolimod was discontinued due to inefficacy in 57%, and 87.4% started another treatment. Relapse was observed in 33% of the patients in the year after discontinuation. Severe reactivation was observed in 15%. During the first 6 months after discontinuation, new/enhancing lesions were seen in 62/116 patients. Higher age at the fingolimod discontinuation was found to be associated with a lower probability of inflammatory activity (p = 0.001) and severe reactivation (p = 0.007) during the year after discontinuation. Lower lymphocyte count was a risk factor for clinical, radiological, and severe activity (p = 0.02, p = 0.002, p = 0.01, respectively). Conclusions: The main reason for the discontinuation of fingolimod was inefficacy. One-third of the patients had a relapse during the year after discontinuation, 15% experienced a severe reactivation, and approximately 50% of patients with available MRI scan had new/enhancing lesions. The risk factors for disease activity after discontinuation were low lymphocyte count and younger age.
- Lymphocyte count
- Multiple sclerosis